Are Universities Ripe for Transition?

Is human-time running into its hourglass? Or worse, is the hourglass broken and the sand rapidly spilling out? Instead of finally facing up to what is fundamentally wrong with our global society, the picture since Copenhagen (or is it the collapse of Lehmann bros.?), seems to be one where our political and economic leaders, policy-makers and opinion-formers, are not simply bent on avoiding, side-stepping, or even denying outright the crisis of the biosphere but are ploughing all their – and hence our – remaining energies into the restoration of the old, redundant, indeed suicidal growth model. Yet equally maddening – at least for those of us operating within academe – is the way our supposedly very clever university people, not least most of the ones who run the show, continue not simply to offer themselves as collaborators, advisers and handmaidens to ‘business as usual’ but to the promotion of exactly this as the strategic way forward for UK universities plc.

So, the purpose of this dissenters’ conference is to consider whether an alternative university frame of reference can be meaningfully and practically developed. Thus, it is not interested in REF’s or research funding per se. On the contrary, it seeks to ask a fundamental question for this age of Climate Change, Peak Oil and Global Inequality: can universities radically change course, and initiate a programme of genuine ‘transition’ not simply for their own benefit but for that of the wider common weal?

A National Weekend Conference

West Downs Centre, Winchester

February 5-6 2011

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